Proposed amendments to Ontario's Highway Traffic Act to develop a regulatory framework that would allow for evidence from a school bus camera to be introduced in court without the need for a witness.
Bill or Act:
Highway Traffic Act (HTA)
Summary of Proposal:
The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is proposing to make amendments to the Highway Traffic Act to develop a regulatory framework that will:
• Establish evidentiary rules that would clarify what evidence could be used to prove a driver improperly passed a stopped school bus without the need to have a witness present.
Municipalities and school boards already have the ability to use school bus cameras. Across the province, six municipalities have tested school bus cameras in their region. The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) does not currently prohibit adding video equipment to school buses that record drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses - provided that the equipment does not extend beyond the allowable dimensions of the vehicle, and it does not interfere with the safe operation of the bus. However, if the charge is contested in court any photo evidence would need to be introduced by a witness.
These amendments are being proposed to respond to requests from municipalities, school bus consortia, and the stop arm camera industry that the current framework is too onerous on school bus drivers, who would often be the witness to the offence. With this proposal municipalities can choose to use school bus camera systems without creating any additional burden on school bus drivers or the need for a witness to appear in court. By making these camera systems a more viable enforcement option, we are also creating safer roads around school buses for children. The ministry is also seeking feedback on whether signage should be required for these school bus cameras in order to ensure transparency to the public and further deter school bus passing incidents.
This proposal aligns to government priorities as it reduces red tape for business and municipalities. This change will provide greater opportunity for industry and municipalities to come together and implement school bus cameras. Once these regulations are finalized it will ultimately be up to municipalities and school boards to determine whether they would like to pursue a school bus camera program in their region.
It is anticipated that this proposal will not have any administrative costs for business. The proposed amendment will eliminate a barrier to the Ontario market by defining the evidentiary requirements to secure a conviction using photo/video evidence from a school bus camera without the need for a witness.
We invite you to submit comments on this proposal for MTO's consideration.
May 12, 2020
Comments Due Date:
May 26, 2020
Ministry of Transportation
Road Safety Policy Office
Safety Policy and Education Branch
87 Sir William Hearst Avenue
Building "A", Room 212